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December 10, 2012
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Lineart on a tablet: any tips, or should I just not bother?

:iconoutsidelogic:
outsidelogic Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I see plenty of examples of beautiful lineart (or just beautiful art with nice, strongly-defined lines) that is categorized as digital. I sometimes ask how the artist achieved such smooth lines, but the answer is usually just "photoshop" or "SAI", and doesn't give me much information.

When I sketch on my tablet, I have a hard time controlling the precision of my lines. I either need to gradually build them up using very thin strokes, or go back with an eraser to try and smooth them out. Is there a trick to this on a tablet? Or do most artists just do their lines traditionally, and then finish the pictures digitally?

Any guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
I understand your frustration and have felt that way, too. So what I've discovered may help you, just like it did me. First of all, most artists (unless they're really good at digital work specifically) don't just put down a pretty line with lots of variation in line weight(thickness) in one pass. They actually do exactly what you mentioned: sometimes making several passes to build up parts of the line or taking away part of the line with the eraser. I didn't know that until recently. I know that with traditional inking several passes are usually made.

Also, make sure the drivers are installed, even though tablets are "plug and play." I initially thought that's all you needed to do, and my strokes were not nearly as controllable until I actually installed the drivers =P.

But it is absolutely worth putting the time in to get comfortable with doing lineart with the tablet. You can do pretty much anything imaginable once you get it down. Good luck!
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:iconoutsidelogic:
outsidelogic Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the comment. This has made me think: as an experiment, I'm going to install the Windows drivers for my tablet, install GIMP on my Windows instance, and see if I notice any difference in how it behaves when working in Windows. I've done everything in Linux up until now. I'll report back here on how it goes.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
Yah definitely let us know how it goes. Because the tablet should allow you some pretty serious control over your strokes. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you =)
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Here is how I do my line art. This is an example. [link]
A good thing to note is that sketching in photoshop isn't exactly easy. I find sketching in real life much easier than it is in photoshop.

Step one: get a pretty solid sketch, change its color to something other than black.
Step two: Lower the opacity of the sketch.
Step Three: Turn off opacity and flow jitter.
Step Four: Make a new layer draw a line.
Step Five: Make a new layer draw a line. Erase the extra.
Step Six: Merge down a layer.

Repeat step four through six until you have a finished the line art. Some people even turn off shape dynamics as well. I prefer not too but it's up to you. The reason you do this is you can manipulate one line at a time so it all fits together perfectly. I've used the actions menu to make it so F2 makes a new layer and F4 merges a layer down. This way I can do this with great speed.
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:iconoutsidelogic:
outsidelogic Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, doing separate layers as you do the lines seems tedious, but if you configure shortcuts for that, I guess it goes pretty quickly. Your digital work seems to be more about shapes than lines...more painter-like than illustrator-like, if that makes sense. For whatever reason, I like to have pretty prominent lines. Not that it's good or bad...just my style.
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yeah that does make sense. I guess a part I forgot to mention is keep drawing the line til it's perfect. By that I mean draw the line on its own layer and if it isn't perfect press ctrl+z then try again. This way you can build up your linework one perfect line at a time. It may sound very tedious and it kinda is but imo its the easiest way. This video shows the basics of the actions window in photoshop. [link]
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:iconoutsidelogic:
outsidelogic Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hey thanks for the link. There's lots of good info on that site.
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Yeah I've personally watched every video on that site, even the paid ones. In my opinion his website and videos are second to none. Everything he teaches is short and to the point. For me his videos made me prefer digital over traditional after some learning.
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:iconfersteger2:
fersteger2 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Try a trial version of Sketchbook Pro. I can't draw good lines at all in photoshop, but sketchbook pro has plenty of options for line smoothing and stabilizing. It's much closer to drawing on paper than most other digital programs.

I've got to try Manga Studio myself, wanted to check that out.
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:iconoutsidelogic:
outsidelogic Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Have you tried SAI? It seems to be what most people are recommending. I'm just wondering how it compares to Sketchbook Pro.
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